Water security is a complex issue with a lot of independently moving parts. While the earth’s surface is three-quarters water, almost all of that is ocean, unusable due to its salinity. There are limited freshwater resources available for everyday use, consumption by humans and human food products. Global climate change is slowing replenishment of fresh water supplies while there has been no let up in demand.
In 2012, the United States created the U.S. Water Partnership (USWP) to help provide access to information about water and provide outlets for collaboration on water improvement projects. Of course, this is only a first step. In order to ensure a water secure future, everyone will need to take part. This means reducing demand for water supplies, ensuring that freshwater sources are protected for spoilage through spills and accidents, and creating new technologies to turn currently undrinkable water into potable water supplies.
Organizations like the USWP and the Prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz International Prize for Water, provide access to technical information and encourage innovation in the field. But these must be paired with resources for deploying and making water available to the broader world. The World Bank has long provided funding to support global infrastructure. Around the world, the problem must be attacked at different levels.
In the United States, there’s more complicated image. As we learned from Flint, Michigan, our own infrastructure is not immune to problems. This is not isolated either, as Washington, Baltimore, and Chicago also have lead problems. But each must be attacked through infrastructure upgrades and a commitment to solve the problem. In many ways, commitment tends to break down when the bill comes due.